What in life can we truly control? There seem to be some definitive answers such as our schedule, the money we spend, and the amount of spicy salsa on our tamales. But when it comes to aspects of life we cannot control, such as the weather, traffic, and relationships ending…when does it become our duty to let go and let life exist as it does?
I have begun to tell my friends, “Expectations are a form of control.” And it’s interesting as I type this because let me ask your opinion, is the word control a negative or a positive word? That’s the first of many questions in this post.
There’s this popular quote floating across the internet: Expect nothing, receive everything. Maybe you’ve seen it once or twice, I know I have seen it plenty. At first, years ago, I perceived this to be a silly quote because having standards and setting expectations are good things, right? Maybe not?
Here’s the array of questions I have for you. Do you personally have expectations for friends or a significant other? Have you verbally communicated those wishes clearly? Is it ok to assume what others want from us and not ask for confirmation? On the other hand, why does it hurt so tragically when someone doesn’t meet the unspoken expectations we set for them? And, strangely, why does it hurt your ego to ask someone you’d like something from them?
Allow me to share an embarrassing story. I recall a moment when I donated the most minuscule and laughable amount of money to multiple people and I was miffed that not all said, “Thank you.” To put it simply, I was a bitch. As I look back, I cringe at my ego for being so loud. Instead of being disappointed in them, I now shamefully shift my disappointment onto myself. Why did I then shamelessly showcase such an ugly characteristic? Sadly, that was not the only moment where I grossly displayed my ego. I’ve held multifarious shows that not one person wanted tickets for and the crowd (rightfully so) booed. I regularly question who did I think I was then. Hah. Lesson: Thank-yous are nice, however, don’t expect everyone to say it and don’t take it personal if you never get any for whatever it is you have done. Give because you want to and not because you expect something back. True altruism does not seek repayment, appreciation, or acknowledgement.
I have another story for you. A few months back, I had an odd experience which led me to comparing myself to someone, and I became more upset than necessary because of my ego. Comparison is a treacherous and tricky game where there is no true winner. Comparing myself to someone in order to feel “better than” is a display of low self-esteem. On the other hand, when I compare myself to someone else and I end up feeling “less than”—I essentially tormented myself willingly due to my thoughts and insecurities. Lesson: When one door closes for you, don’t judge or demonize those before who were able to walk through them. The door may open for a thousand people and it may be locked for you. Don’t take it personal and keep it moving. Do not get stuck in the past. Destiny did not say no, she’s saying, “Look elsewhere.”
Here’s another instance: I was not invited somewhere. Somewhere lively, luxurious, and a place where I knew I would have had so much fun, get to dress up, and indulge in all the glitz, glamour, and giggles. As I halt and step back, analyze my emotions and thoughts, I become less disheartened at the invite that never arrived. I realize that my emotional pain is coming directly only from myself. I was making myself feel lonely when it was not the other party’s intention to isolate or upset me. Our friendship remains the same, before and after the event, as it was only my ego that was wounded in this imaginary battle I set up. Lesson: Finding where I lack stability means I have the opportunity to fix my fragility. Happiness cannot ever be dependent on anything external. Happiness comes from within. Also, no one owes me happiness and my joy is no one’s responsibility. Jealousy and envy can make one quite ill and those are diseases of the mind I have no intentions of developing today or tomorrow.
Why do we, as humans, take other people’s lives and actions and make it about ourselves and hurt our own feelings? Maybe that is a silly question and I answered it in the fifth word of the question. Because we are human. Because life is a journey of lessons, growth, and expanding our mindset. Back then, my ego was a huge glass of fragility. Now, I’m working on shrinking it to be less loud and apparent. I am certain history will repeat itself again as I am not guaranteed an invitation to every event on Earth. However, these silent battles end quicker than not these days as I remove my ego from the situation and understand that I am not an emotional victim of any circumstances. Life goes on, earnestly and endearingly so.
At 27, here’s what I’ve learned:
Emotions are temporary. Feel them, understand them, and let them go.
Egos and expectations go hand-in-hand. Unlink them.
My perceptions of people are not their duties to fulfill.
Likewise, it is not my job to maintain the image people have of me.
My happiness is my responsibility and mine only.